Hypnotic Tactile Anesthesia: Psychophysical and Signal-Detection Analyses

Two experiments that studied the effects of hypnotic suggestions on tactile sensitivity are reported. Experiment 1 found that suggestions for anesthesia, as measured by both traditional psychophysical methods and signal detection procedures, were linearly related to hypnotizability. Experiment 2 employed the same methodologies in an application of the real-simulator paradigm to examine the effects of suggestions for both anesthesia and hyperesthesia. Significant effects of hypnotic suggestion on both sensitivity and bias were found in the anesthesia condition but not for the hyperesthesia condition. A new bias parameter, C’, indicated that much of the bias found in the initial analyses was artifactual, a function of changes in sensitivity across conditions. There were no behavioral differences between reals and simulators in any of the conditions, though analyses of postexperimental interviews suggested the 2 groups had very different phenomenal experiences.